Sunday, March 13, 2011

‘Jesus in the Present Tense: The I AM Statements of Christ’ by Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe – Book Review

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I am a voracious reader of any book written by Dr. Warren Wiersbe. The latest on my checked off list is ‘Jesus in the Present Tense: The I AM Statements of Christ.’

Here is the synopsis of this book:

God is in the present? Are you? Do you find yourself living in memories, imaginations, and fears more than in the current moment? As Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe writes, “My past may discourage me and my future may frighten me, but ‘the life I now live’ today can be enriching and encouraging because “Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).”
In Jesus in the Present Tense, Dr. Wiersbe explores the I AM statements of God – from His burning-bush conversation with Moses, to His powerful reassurances to the Israelites, to Jesus’ startling claims to be the Light of the World, the Good Shepherd, and the True Vine.
The better you understand God’s I AM statements from both the Old and the New Testaments and apply these truths to your life, the more you will abide in Christ and bear fruit for His glory today. Then you will be free to live, serve, and know God more richly in the present tense – which is just where  He wants you to be.

Here is the author’s biography:

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe is an internationally known Bible teacher and the former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago.  For ten years he was associated with the Back to the Bible radio broadcast, first as Bible teacher and then as general director. Dr. Wiersbe has written more than 160 books, including the “BE” series of Bible commentaries, which have sold more than four million copies. He and his wife, Betty, live in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

In the Foreword, Michael Catt, senior pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church and executive producer of Sherwood Pictures (‘Fireproof,’ ‘Facing the Giants,' and ‘Flywheel’) said this about this book:

Joy in the Present Tense is a reminder that our Lord is not a distant deity, nor is He just a figure of history. He is the living God, the great I AM. Dr. Wiersbe guides us through a practical and applicable study of these statements. While these statement are familiar, we often forget that they are for us today, not just for those who heard them in the first century.
When you read this book, you’ll love Jesus more. You’ll see how the divine life is intended to work itself out in daily living. Many books today seek to water down truth to make it more acceptable, but not this one. This book will stretch you to look to the Lord daily for all your needs.
In a day when many are offering cotton-candy theology, Warren Wiersbe takes us to the meat, break, milk and honey of the Word of God. The content is sound and scriptural. May the I AM speak to you, as He did to me. (p. 10)

In the Preface, Dr. Wiersbe explains the power of Jesus:

No leader, no author, no organization, and no set of religious disciplines can do for us what Jesus alone can do, if we let Him. Even the book you are now reading can merely point the way to Jesus. Divine truth becomes dynamic life only when we yield to Jesus by faith and follow Him. If the founders of the world’s philosophies and religious systems were alive on earth today, they could only say, “I was.” They are dead, and they can’t personally help you. Jesus doesn’t say “I was.” He is alive and says, “I AM.” He can meet our needs today. He is alive this very moment and offers us a satisfying spiritual life in the present tense. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8). Past history, present reality, and future certainty all unite today in Jesus Christ, the great I AM. (p. 11)

Dr. Wiersbe explains that God explains Himself to His people in the Old Testament:
In nine places in the Old Testament, the Lord “filled out” or “completed” the name I AM to reveal more fully His divine nature and His gracious ministry to His people:

·         Yahweh-Jireh:  The Lord will provide or see to it (Genesis 22:14)
·     Yahweh-Rophe: The Lord who heals (Exodus 15:26)
·     Yahweh-Nissi: The Lord our banner (Exodus 17:15)
·     Yahweh- M’Kaddesh: The Lord who sanctifies (Leviticus 20:8)
·     Yahweh-Shalom: The Lord our peace (Judges 6:24)
·     Yahweh-Rohi: The Lord our shepherd (Psalm 23:1)
·     Yahweh-Sabaoth: The Lord of hosts (Psalm 46:7)
·     Yahweh-Tsidkenu: The Lord our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)
·     Yahweh-Shammah: The Lord is there (Ezekiel 48:35) (pp. 20-21)

These names apply equally to Jesus.

The book goes on to detail all of the name with which Jesus referred to Himself: ‘The Bread of Life,’ ‘The Light of the World,’ ‘The Door,’ ‘The Good Shepherd,’ ‘The Resurrection and the Light,’ ‘The Way, the Truth, and the Life,’ ‘The True Wine,’ and ‘The Neglected I AM.’

I am involved with a women’s ministry entitled Gracestoration. It focuses on Jesus as the Good Shepherd. So I will focus on that chapter. Dr. Wiersbe explains why Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd:

Jesus calls Himself “the Good Shepherd” because He is the genuine shepherd in contrast to the false shepherds and hired hands who over the centuries had exploited God’s people. Remember that civil rulers such as kings, princes, and governors were called shepherds, even though many of them were like wolves and robbers (Isa. 56:9-12; Ezek. 34). The promised Messiah was to be a loving shepherd (Isa. 40:9-11; Ezek. 34:20-24), and Jesus is that Messiah. The word translated “good” in “good shepherd” carries the meaning of “noble, praiseworthy, desirable, and pleasing to God.” Jesus qualifies. (pp. 81-82)

Dr. Wiersbe goes on to discuss how the shepherd is very aware of each of his sheep: he owns them, he knows them, he calls them, he cares for them, and he gathers his flock. Jesus engages in all of these activities with His church.
Dr. Wiersbe encourages us that the Godhead is still active today:

History is so often being rewritten these days that we may not know exactly what has happened in the past; and since we are not omniscient, we cannot predict the future accurately. However, there is still good news: Right now, in this present hour, God gives us the privilege of making decisions that may alter some of the consequences of the past and also help establish some exciting new directions for the future. “I tell you, now it’s the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). Now! Today!
God wants His children to live a day at a time, in the present tense, trusting in His guidance and grace. “Give us this day” applies not only to our daily bread but also to everything else involved in our day-by-day pilgrim journey. From the first day of creation, the Lord ordained that our galaxy function one day at a time as Planet Earth makes its annual trip around the sun. The next time you say, “I wish I had more time,” remind yourself that we all have the same amount of time – twenty-four hours a day – and that perhaps we should be saying, “I wish I had more control over our time.” This means being wise and “making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16) (p. 175-176)

I have reviewed several other Dr. Wiersbe’s books on my blog: Be Authentic: Exhibiting Real Faith in the Real World,’ reviewing the lives of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (you can read my review here), The Wiersbe Bible Study Series: It’s Always Too Soon to Quit! – 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon’ by Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe – Book Review’ (you can read my review here), Be Available: Accepting the Challenge to Confront the Enemy’ (Judges – OT Commentary) (you can read my review here) and Pause for Power: A 365-Day Journey Through the Scriptures,’ (the review is here). Just as I did with those books, I recommend this one as well. Dr. Wiersbe writes with wisdom and authority, and the reader will always glean truth and grace in His writings.

You can order this book here.

This book was published by David C. Cook and provided by the B&B Media Group, Inc. for review purposes.

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